Local author releases new book

Suzette Lowe

Some people find their passion early in life. For some, it comes later.

Local author, Nancy Merical, said she was in her 40s before discovering the path she felt led to take.

“I had dabbled with a little bit of poetry,” she said. “I had a couple of poems published in magazines, but to sit down and write a book was nothing I had ever really considered.”

Merical has just published her 13th book, ‘Missing’ which tells a true story that impacted her life and that of her family.

The book details experiences, both bitter and sweet, growing up with her two sisters and one brother. Ultimately it describes her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease which led to his leaving his home one evening, only to be discovered seven months later a mere 300 yards from the house.

Knowing something of the experiences Merical and her family went through, a friend suggested she tell the story.

“At first, it made me angry,” she said. “I didn’t want to relive the pain, but I began seeing so much about Alzheimer’s on the news. I thought maybe it would help someone, even me, to share my father’s story.”

Merical said it was the second hardest book she has written.

“The hardest was ‘Down Life’s Paths: With Mom and Dad’ which was a series of essays, many of which were part of a column I had written for The Jackson Herald,” she said. “Sometimes crying, which I did a lot of while writing these, is healing as well.”

Like many authors, Merical has found it difficult to be published in the traditional manner. Many of her books have been self-published.

“I’ve never been turned down because of the quality of my writing,” she said. “I’ve received compliments and encouragement, but the market is flooded with submissions. I went the route so many writers have chosen.”

Only writing in the inspirational genre, Merical said she was never really considered creating secular works.

“I just never felt led in that direction,” she said. “From the very beginning, I knew I only wanted to write books showing God’s love and the power of faith and forgiveness.”

The 79-year-old author said she vividly remembers three incidents that set her on her writing journey.

“My neighbor was attending a writing conference and asked if I wanted to go,” she recalled. “I decided to give it a try. I was in my 40s at the time.”

A local high school teacher, Kathy Harris, was one of the instructors.

“She was critiquing everyone’s work and I just couldn’t bear the thought that she would hate my writing,” Merical said. “So I went out to my car because I was so insecure. I got my work back later and she had written ‘you definitely have talent’. I’ve kept that paper to this day.”

Another writer’s conference resulted in her first published book. It also shows Merical was fated to become the author she is today.

“At this particular conference, several publishers were there,” she said. “All the tables were full and I was never one to push myself forward.”

She happened to look over and saw the representative from Llenas Publications sitting alone.

“I thought he looked awful lonely, so I figured I’d just go and keep him company for a bit,” she said with a smile. “He looked over my work and said to send them a book. That’s how ‘Just for Kids’ was published.”

The book, which focused on recitations, poems, and dialogues for children, eventually sold 3000 copies.

One other writer’s conference led to some discouragement.

“I attended a state-wide conference at Cedar Lakes and, of course, none of the attendees wrote inspirational so I didn’t really feel I belonged,” she said.

She went home and shared her tears with her husband, Jack.

“Jack was always supportive of me,” she said. “And I was reminded of the Bible verse that said ‘The Lord gave the word and great was the company of those who published it.’ I went back, with Jack’s blessing, and I have continued to write.”

Merical said that this determination is something she inherited from her mother.

“My mother was a strong woman,” she said. “She wasn’t always easy to live with and wasn’t demonstrative, but she showed us love in taking care of things and often sacrificing so we could have things. It seemed like there was no obstacle she couldn’t overcome until dad got Alzheimer’s.”

The author describes her father as a gentle Christian man. Even with Alzheimer’s, his biggest concern was always how to help others.

The night he left home, Merical feels her father may have thought someone had a problem he needed to fix.

“It’s hard to describe what our family went through in those seven months dad was missing,” she said. “My mom died shortly before he was found but that was a blessing in a way.”

Merical, whose husband passed away recently, said she will continue to write. She’s trying to get back into the routine that has served her well.

“When I’m on schedule, I do my chores, write for two hours, play piano and paint for two hours each and crochet at night,” she said. “I was born in May so I think creativity comes naturally.”

It took two years to write ‘Missing’ Merical said. She is ready to publish “Shadow of Death”, an inspirational mystery.

“I was once told that if you can stop, then you’re not a writer,” Merial said. “Simply put, I write because I love it and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”

Copies of ‘Missing” can be found locally at the WV Artisan’s Market, Little Creek Crafts & More, and directly from the author through a Facebook message. Merical’s books can also be found at Amazon.

For information on Alzheimer’s Disease, go to alz.org.

Book Signing/Meet the Author

Saturday, March 27

12 pm – 2 pm

WV Artisan Market

119 West Main Street

Ripley, WV

Project Lifesaver

Merical’s daughter, Kim Quillen, helped Pilot Club of Jackson County establish the Project Lifesaver Program.

The club, In cooperation with the local sheriff’s department provides a means of locating people who are prone to wander such as those with Alzheimer's.

For information about Project Lifesaver, contact Sheila Randolph at 304-373-9940 or send an email to pilotclubjc@yahoo.com